A Global Expedition: International Students’ Orientation Experience

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Upon entering the gates of the Indianapolis International Airport, incoming Tigers from across the globe traveled to the town of Greencastle, Indiana, to transition to their new home for the next four years.

To effectively adapt to university life, over 100 first-year international students engaged in DePauw University’s week-long International Student Orientation (ISO) prior to the official start of the academic year 2022-2023. Covering important topics such as residential logistics, financial management, academic requirements, and social environments, ISO welcomed students onto campus through a series of informational and entertaining activities from August 15 to 19.

 

Move-In Monday

As students entered the Vernon Jordan Residence Hall for their check-in process, the sound of bulky luggage could be heard throughout the corridors, reflecting the silent curiosity and excitement of first-year residents. Amid the hustle and bustle of arranging their belongings in their dormitories, students emphasized how the DePauw community  supported them every step of the way. 

Interviewer, first-year Eliana Alzate: “Can you describe your most significant experience during move-in day?”

First-year anonymous student (India): "The move -in day was pretty great, as there were seniors and faculty [members] who helped us carry our luggage into the dorm and place them in our room. I also got to meet my RA (Residential Assistant), and he was very helpful since he guided me through the different procedures and basic rules in the dorm. Everyone in the DePauw family was really nice and sweet to me…which made me excited to be part of the Class of 2026."

After settling into their respective dorm rooms, students grabbed their allocated meal coupons and campus maps as they tried not to get lost on their way to the Hoover Dining Hall. Spending their last few meals and laughs with their families, the newest Tigers soon prepared themselves for their next few days of orientation.

 

Thrilling Tuesday

For students who had recently moved in, Tuesday was the first day they could “swipe” for breakfast at Hoover Hall using their student ID card. Breakfast was followed by trips to important local establishments. For instance, those who were 18 years old and above opened a bank account that morning at PNC Bank in downtown Greencastle, where they could deposit their cash into their new savings accounts. At noon, Tigers then teamed up into groups and ate lunch with their International Student Ambassadors (ISAs) before going to Walmart. This was an opportunity for students to purchase personal items, dorm supplies, and snacks to get ready for their academic year ahead! 

Interviewer, first-year Linh Le: “What was memorable about the Walmart [trips]?” 

Hachem Moi (Morocco - France): "Walmart is much bigger than every supermarket in my home country. I just intended to go there to explore new things, so I forgot to buy utilities that I needed."

Oumaima Nachet (Morocco): “I thought the first Walmart trip was a bit short because we had just arrived and needed a lot of stuff that we couldn’t get in just one hour. But in terms of the transportation I thought it was pretty good.”

 

Writing and Wellness Wednesday

International students started their Wednesday with a welcoming event led by DePauw’s Vice President of Institutional Equity, Dr. Dionne Jackson. Afterward, students listened to a range of college tips through various speaker sessions conducted at The Inn at DePauw. These included goal setting, success planning, and information about on-campus fellowship, research, and leadership programs. 

During the afternoon, students grabbed lead pencils and blue notebooks for the mandatory writing assessment at Asbury Hall, an exam to ensure proper placement in the appropriate English class for their first semester. After the assessment, DePauw University emphasized the importance of students’ mental health through a wellness chat with Malorie McGee. 

The international Tigers then ended their evening with a meal as they bonded with their respective ambassador groups over food from the Thai Food Truck at Hamilton Park. 

Linh Le: “What did you like and dislike about the Thai Food Truck?”

Quan Nguyen, Sophomore and International Student Ambassador (Vietnam): “Muay Thai in my opinion is one of the best food trucks at DePauw. As Food Truck Friday is a wonderful occasion to hang out with friends and meet new people, I'm thankful that we were able to bring it to international students. They had time to play games and chat with each other while enjoying the amazing food. I really hope that the ISA program could continue this activity with more options next year.”

 

Transitional Thursday

Thursday was a busy day of seminars for the international Tigers. Following breakfast and Social Hour at the Inn, students learned about police regulations, student conduct, health and wellness, immigration, academic culture shock, and graduation requirements. Tips on finances, time management, and for applying for on-campus jobs were also shared. Later, Tigers met their Mentors and had lunch with them at Hoover Hall, before ending the day with international alumni from Depauw.

Interviewer, first-year Linh Le: “What do you think about all seminars in general?”

Hamza Shahzad (Pakistan): “The seminar on clubs helped me to navigate and choose the clubs which piqued my interest. I was interested in on-campus employment but did not understand the procedure of applying for a job. The seminar on student employment gave me the proper guideline and helped me to make a resume & CV which would look professional.”

 

Fruitful Friday

Following the myriad of informational sessions, the Union Building (UB) crackled to life on Friday as international students concluded their eventful week with the End of ISO Celebration. 

The spotlight was set on a makeshift karaoke screen at the heart of the building, unlocking students’ musical talents throughout the night. Meanwhile, the billiard pool was flocked with competitive players, as arcade machines illuminated the formerly quiet basement halls. Students could also be found scouring the snack tables or unwinding on leather couches with their newfound friend groups. 

Eliana Alzate: “In your perspective, how did the End of ISO party develop the relationships within the international student community?”

Melanie Kanyunyuzi (Uganda): “The End of ISO party had my fellow peers bonding over familiar songs, or even teaching each other their native countries’ songs. The games they played and the stories they told helped strengthen their bonds respectively.”

Amid the music and laughter, international students from the Class of 2026 concluded their ISO with new skills, experiences, and friendships that may accompany them throughout the next few years of their academic life. These Tigers are now ready to explore DePauw University with determination and passion, making them truly Gold Within.